Focus on - Northamptonshire Coach/Activator Academy

Monday 8th March 2021 marks International Women's Day (IWD). Every year people across the world unite to highlight women's rights. Also, to recognise women for their achievements, regardless of divisions whether national, cultural, ethnic, economic, linguistic or political.

In light of this, it's the perfect time to shine the spotlight on some young women in Northamptonshire who are working towards becoming sports leaders of the future.

Each of these young women were nominated by their schools to be part of the Northamptonshire Coach/Activator Academy. The Coach/Activator Academy is part of a national programme funded by Sport England and the Youth Sport Trust. Its core purposes are:

  • Take sports leaders leadership knowledge and understanding to the next level, by providing them with bespoke higher-level learning opportunities
  • Provide gifted sports leaders with a learning environment and opportunities that will develop new skills, and the opportunity to refine and practice others
  • Be part of a larger network of keen and enthusiastic young people aspiring to become better sports leaders and improve their life and employability chances

In total, 30 students are part of the programme this year. Northampton Academy is the lead school for Leadership, Coaching and Volunteering. We, Northamptonshire Sport are co-delivering the programme, embedding the initiative into other leadership opportunities and programmes across the county.

To celebrate International Women's Day, we caught up with three of the inspirational students involved in the programme. 'Meet' them and read more below:

Brooke, Year 9 – Northampton School for Girls

Why did you get involved in Sports Leadership Brooke?

I wanted to get involved because I have a massive passion for sports! I want to share my experience and knowledge to help motivate others whilst also having the opportunity to learn and do challenging tasks for myself.

What do you hope to achieve by accessing leadership training and opportunities to lead activities for others?

I hope to have the opportunity to learn new skills such as, coaching, influencing, mentoring and active listening. I hope it helps me grow as a person and into a more capable leader. I'd like to build confidence and enjoyment in others and try to bring out the best of their abilities.

Why do you think leadership opportunities are important to your future – how will you use the skills you have developed?

I believe it is important because it defines who you are. A good leader will help people grow, they will share what they know, they will look for opportunities for people around them, they will build up the team and create strong relationships. The skills I have developed, I'll use to lead others in a positive way and hopefully this will benefit them strengthening relationships.

What would be your message to other young girls thinking about becoming a sports leader?

I would say "GO FOR IT!" It's a great opportunity, set an example, be passionate, enthusiastic and remember to treat people equally.

Is there a female celebrity, sportswoman or teacher who inspirers you and why?

The person that inspires me the most is Mrs Tarlton, Head of PE at Northampton School for Girls. This is because she can lead well and makes me feel motivated and involved. She inspires me to lead too. She's also organised, patient and treats me equally.

Hattie, Year 10 – Wootton Park School

How did you get involved in sports leadership Hattie?

I got involved in sports leadership when I was 9, when my primary school offered me a chance to take part within their in-school leadership programme. It only got better from there!

Why did you get involved in sports leadership?

I always loved PE, and getting involved with sports, both in and out of school and I always wanted to partake in everything and anything that was happening, and so when I was offered the chance to go into sports leadership, I had to take it up.

What do you hope to achieve by accessing leadership training and opportunities to lead activities for others?

I hope to inspire more young girls to get themselves involved in sports and believing in themselves to be able to do anything.

Why do you think leadership opportunities are important to your future- how will you use the skills you have developed?

These leadership opportunities for me have been absolutely amazing- they've not only improved my confidence, giving me the belief in myself to teach sports, but also taught me organisation skills.

As well as communication skills, being able to talk with my team and with the people involved in the sports activity. It's also taught me flexibility, the ability to adapt to fit the situation - which is vital in a workplace.

What would be your message to other girls thinking about becoming a sports leader?

Go for it! If you want to become a sports leader, then take up every opportunity you're offered, and don't let anyone stop you- if you believe in yourself and go for it, you can do anything!

Is there a female celebrity, sportswoman or teacher who inspires you and why?

My PE teacher definitely inspires me. She's so confident and organised, and I absolutely love every single week of PE, because the lessons are so enjoyable, and the best. I watch girls in my class who aren't overly keen on PE get so involved because her PE lessons are great, everyone loves them. She's my main inspiration for sports leadership.

Abbie, Year 11 – Northampton Academy

How did you get involved in sports leadership Abbie?

In year 5 the PE staff chose me to be part of the leadership programme where I started my training with Miss Carter-Morris, I decided to go and that's where the journey began.

Why did you get involved in sports leadership?

I was invited to go to the sessions by my PE teachers in primary school, so I decided to give it a go, instantly I was drawn to it. Then when I lead my first session, seeing the children's faces, I loved it. I could give the children access to sports and could give them something to enjoy. After a few months, you see the children progress and develop. I fell in love with it so never looked back.

What do you hope to achieve by accessing leadership training and opportunities to lead activities for others?

I hope to learn more ways to provide others with fun, an escape from the stresses of life and an opportunity to play sports. I want to continue learning how to give all children access to exercise and sports and watch them grow and develop. The more training programmes I attend the more I learn and the better leader I can become.

Why do you think leadership opportunities are important to your future - how will you use the skills you have developed?

Although for now I am not looking for a career in teaching just yet, I am considering a career in medicine as a paramedic. I will use the people skills I have developed over the years in the job. I can use the confidence leading has given me to be there for the patient and their families. I can also use the leadership skills in the high-pressure situations I will be faced with. Not just in my career, the skills I have learned help develop me as a person.

What would be your message to other young girls thinking of becoming a sports leader?

I would say to any girl looking into becoming a sports leader to do it. It gives you a chance to help other people and to give them opportunities you might not have had. It also helps you to develop as a person, being a sports leader has helped me to become the person I am. I have a long way to go but I have really improved in elements of confidence and character since becoming a leader. It helps you learn skills that are transferable to all aspects of life. It really can change your life because it did mine, and if it's not for you - there's no harm in trying.

Is there a female celebrity, sportswoman or teacher who inspires you and why?

For me personally, growing up my PE teacher Mrs Davies inspired me. I saw an incredibly nurturing woman who would do anything for her students. She helped provide children with different backgrounds the same opportunities to play sports. To this day she is the same incredible teacher and woman. I am forever grateful for what she has done for me, she's always gone above and beyond to be there for me and my family.

Mrs Davies is an inspiring woman and if I can grow up to be anything like her, I will call myself lucky. If anyone deserves to be celebrated on International Woman's Day, it is her!

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